Kankakee school teachers and administrators spent Wednesday afternoon improving the school district's relationship with the community one knock at a time.
Staff members walked through city neighborhoods to talk to community members about the district's summer programs. The overall goal was to get the community more engaged with the schools.
"For us, this is breaking barriers and building bridges with the community," said Edith Petty, a bilingual teacher at Mark Twain Primary School. "It's good for the community to see our faces. The more they see us, the more I think they will be more comfortable with us and willing to get involved. I think it will establish a better rapport between the district and community."
Along the way, teachers ran into current and former students. A Spanish-speaking faculty member was in each group to communicate with non-English speakers.
Crystal Jordan, who lives in the Hillcrest neighborhood, got to speak with her former teacher, Kathleen O'Connor, who now leads the district's human resources department.
"It's amazing to see them walking through the neighborhoods and reaching out to us," said Jordan, who has two sons in the district. "It brings a better sense of community. I would love to see this more often. It keeps the kids and families focused on education."
For the district, it was another chance to set the tone for summer. Last year, its high school students conducted a peace march throughout the city to discourage violence. Among the events the district promoted on a flier were summer school programs and a STEM camp at Kankakee Community College.
Superintendent Genevra Walters, who also walked the streets, said the district plans on doing another community walk on Aug. 14 that will lead into its back to school bash.
"We want to improve our public perception and help families help their children," Walters said. "To do that, we need to have face-to-face conversations with people in our community. We want to collaborate more with our families, and I think these walks are going to help us do that."